RIYLPolar Bear Club
Hot Water Music
Third Eye Blind
4. St. Anne
5. Stay in the Sun
7. Drown in It
9. Hide Away
11. Desert Lily
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With the release of 2010's End Measured Mile, indie rockers Make Do and Mend snuck their way onto countless playlists and a couple of year-end lists, immediately drawing comparisons to genre darlings Hot Water Music and Polar Bear Club. With their intriguing move to Rise Records in November of last year, any attention they had previously was suddenly magnified. And with Hot Water Music actually releasing an album this year (a damn good one at that), there was greater pressure than ever on Make Do and Mend to distinguish themselves from their new label mates. Having already reviewed Exister, and with a handful of spins of Everything You Ever Loved under my belt, whereas Hot Water Music trimmed the fat and collected fast, visceral songs; like a slow jam at a school dance, Make Do and Mend actually take their signature sound down a notch.
But in all honesty, it's just a notch. Everything You Ever Loved could really be disc two to End Measured Mile. Or maybe a fraternal twin? The instrumentation hasn't really changed. The formula for a Make Do and Mend album is simple yet driving, riff-driven songs underscored by James Carroll's vocal daggers. Carroll may have eased off the gas just a little in favor of a cleaner delivery on a majority of songs, but he's more than capable of, and quite comfortable with, slinging grit. Of course, the similarities between the two albums isn't necessarily a bad thing; both happen to be competent entries in an impressive early discography. On the other hand, with the band in a holding pattern, they're doomed to continue producing competent albums.
There are a couple of gems like "Hide Away," which brings to mind the best songs on The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me with its sublime chorus, and "Disassemble," a drum-heavy romp with surprisingly delicate guitar work. And there are tracks that do make some new maneuvers, like "Stay in the Sun," which works in some nimble vocal lines and keys. But, there are rougher cuts like "Count," a song pretty content with being a middling rock track, and "Royal," which plods along despite an earthquake caliber chorus courtesy of Carroll. "Drown in It" suffers similarly, spending its duration on the runway, taxiing and admiring its own string section before throwing in a big riff at the end like a confused apology.
Does Everything You Ever Loved have staying power? Is it exciting? When I do listen, I can pick a few tracks I dig, but I certainly haven't had much desire to revisit it. End Measured Mile had novelty as an impressive debut with potential from a new band, but without that novelty and without clear progression, experimentation, some sort of songwriting spark, Everything You Ever Loved is largely flat. It's more like Make Due and Meh. For a few listens, Everything You Ever Loved might sate your need for riffage and emotive, gravelly vocals, but there are better albums out there.